What will probably be my last interview with a local survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack will run in The Morning Call on Friday, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
It will be an “in their own words” account by a 93-year-old Army veteran who served in the Signal Corps and was at Hickam Field when the Japanese attacked Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941.
I don’t know of any other Pearl Harbor survivors in the Lehigh Valley whose stories I haven’t done. The list I once had is exhausted.
The first interview was in 1999 with Jim Murdy of Allentown. He was an electrician aboard the light cruiser Helena, which was torpedoed in the harbor’s repair dock. Jim is now in his mid 90s. His story is in my book War Stories: In Their Own Words.
Next came John Minnich of Richmond Township, Berks County. He was an Army Air Forces truck driver at Wheeler Field, the fighter base on Oahu. His heart gave out and he died several days after my final interview with him. But with the blessing of his family, his story ran Dec. 7, 2001.
In 2002, I interviewed Paul Moyer, then of Richland Township, Bucks County. He was a 19-year-old Army private first class in the 21st Infantry Regiment at Schofield Barracks when the Japanese attacked. Paul now lives in Pottstown.
Joe Moore was 23 and a master gunner with the 98th Coast Artillery Regiment (Antiaircraft) at Upper Schofield Barracks on Dec. 7, 1941. He lives in Allentown and goes to my church, Calvary Moravian. I saw him at the service Sunday. His story ran Dec. 7, 2005.
Dick Schimmel of Allentown was a plotter and switchboard operator in the Army’s Aircraft Warning Service at the Fort Shafter information center, which took calls from the island’s radar sites. My interview with Dick ran Dec. 7, 2007. I wrote about him again last year, along with his radar buddies Joe Lockard and Bob McKenney. Dick plans to attend Pennsylvania’s Pearl Harbor ceremony Friday in Harrisburg. Joe, who lived near Harrisburg, died Nov. 2 at 90. Bob is in Phoebe Home in Allentown.
For Pearl Harbor Day 2008, I had a story on Warren Peters of Catasauqua, who served in Battery A of the Army’s 15th Coast Artillery at Fort Weaver, at the western entrance to Pearl Harbor. He died Sept. 29, 2011.
Alfred Taglang was my subject on Dec. 7, 2009. He was with the 876th Antiaircraft Gun Battery at Fort Kamehameha, near Hickam Field. Al died June 12, 2011, in an east Allentown nursing home.
In 2010, I interviewed Burdell Hontz, who worked in the message center of a B-17 bomber unit, the 11th Bombardment Group, at Hickam Field. He was a 19-year-old corporal. He lives in Bangor.
You can find all of these stories at http://www.mcall.com/news/all-warstories,0,2438477.storygallery
Additionally, I wrote a story about Clifford Ryerson of Tannersville for the Pearl Harbor anniversary in 2006. That piece was not in the “in their own words” format. Clifford was navigator on the minesweeper Tern. He died May 4, 2009.